These 15 vehicles are IIHS' top safety picks for 2018

A total of eleven Toyota and Lexus vehicles are 2018 IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK award winners with the new 2018 Camry receiving its highest award the TOP SAFETY PICK

Two vehicle manufacturers-Hyundai and Subaru-garnered the lion's share of the highest-level safety awards for 2018 presented by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The organization has long used crash tests as a key element for rating vehicles, including hits to the front driver's side, but this year the institute added a new test: crashes to the front on the passenger side. It also required vehicles to have acceptable or good headlights for the first time to earn a Top Safety Pick award.

"Fifteen vehicles meeting these new tougher criteria for top safety pick plus is a good news story for consumers", said Lund. It was this test that caused the significant drop in the number of vehicles earning the top rating.

"We are trying to send a message to the auto makers that we do want them to improve the protection for their customers", said IIHS president Adrian Lund.

No minivans or pickup trucks received a Top Safety Pick Plus award.

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Also relatively new are the headlight ratings, which were first instituted in March 2016, and the initial results were poor.

The 2018 list of the safest vehicles is out, and just 15 earned the highest rating, down from 69 a year ago.

Most of the TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards go to two manufacturers: Hyundai Motor Co. - which owns the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands - has six models earning the award, and Subaru has four. For small sized vehicles the Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Subaru Impreza and Subaru WRX came out on top. All but one of the seven vehicles in Subaru's lineup, the BRZ, qualified for one of the awards. The TOP SAFETY PICK+ accolade was introduced in the 2013 model year to recognize vehicles that offer a superior level of safety. That list could grow, since IIHS has not yet reviewed all models and variations and plans to review more throughout 2018. Automakers have pledged to make it a standard feature by 2022.

The Institute releases ratings as it evaluates new models, adjusting the list of winners throughout the year.

"The improvements in occupant protection have been fantastic over the past decades", says Lund.

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